Isocitrate dehydrogenase mutations in gliomas: mechanisms, biomarkers and therapeutic target

Curr Opin Neurol. 2011 Dec;24(6):648-52. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e32834cd415.


Purpose of review: Isocitrate dehydrogenases, IDH1 and IDH2, decarboxylate isocitrate to α-ketoglutarate (α-KG) and reduce NADP to NADPH. Point mutations of IDH1 and IDH2 have been discovered in gliomas. IDH mutations cause loss of native enzymatic activities and confer novel activity of converting α-KG to 2-hydroxyglutarate (2-HG). The mechanisms of IDH mutations in gliomagenesis, and their value as diagnostic, prognostic marker and therapeutic target have been extensively studied. This review is to summarize the findings of these studies.

Recent findings: Crystal structural studies revealed conformation changes in mutant IDHs, which may explain the gain of function by mutant IDHs. The product of mutant IDHs, 2-HG, is an inhibitor of α-KG-dependent dioxygenases, which may cause genome-wide epigenetic changes in human gliomas. IDH mutations are a favorable prognostic factor for human glioma and can be used as biomarker for differential diagnosis and subclassification rather than predictor of response to treatment. Preliminary data suggested that inhibiting production of the substrate of mutant IDH enzymes caused slow-down of glioma cell growth.

Summary: As valuable diagnostic and prognostic markers of human gliomas, there is still a lack of knowledge on biological functions of mutant IDHs, making targeting IDHs in glioma both difficult and unsecured.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Glioma / diagnosis
  • Glioma / enzymology*
  • Glioma / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / chemistry
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Isocitrates / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Ketoglutaric Acids / metabolism
  • Point Mutation*
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Conformation


  • Biomarkers
  • Isocitrates
  • Isoenzymes
  • Ketoglutaric Acids
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase